‘Showrooming’ challenges businesses to keep up with an increasingly mobile shopping world

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By Brandy Shaul Comment

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Image courtesy Parago

With the widespread adoption of smartphones, brick and mortar retailers have been forced to accept an increasingly large amount of “showrooming,” a shopping behavior that sees customers entering retail locations to look at items in person, only to find the item for cheaper online while browsing on their phone inside the store.

Parago’s latest study has shown that 58% of adult smartphone users and a third of all US adult shoppers regularly “showroom.” The June 2013 study questioned more than 1,000 US smartphone owners on their shopping habits.

For showroom shoppers, Amazon is the top outlet for purchasing items online, either through desktop computers at home or through their mobile phones before they ever leave the competing retailer.

The study showed that a price difference as small as $5 can sway users to purchase online rather than in-store, but at the same time, those stores can earn back customer loyalty by offering to instantly price match or offer rebates.

Unsurprisingly, the number of showroom shoppers is highest when looking for electronics and entertainment (movies, music, etc.). Retailers like Best Buy offer real-world demo experiences with items like laptop computers and mobile phones, but online outlets such as Amazon may offer cheaper prices than those stores.

Parago’s study is another example of mobile devices leading the way in a changing economy. As applications are released to serve most any need, from instructional courses to food delivery, traditional businesses must either adapt or get left behind.

In the case of many retail locations, mobile coupons have become one of the most common customer attraction and retention strategies. According to a report by Business Insider, the mobile coupon market will increase to 53.2 million users by 2014. In addition, overall time spent in shopping apps increased by 247 percent from December 2011 to December 2012, according to a study by Flurry Analytics.

You can see the full results of Parago’s study on its website.